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Me & the rest of Iranian women

By Parissa Sohie
October 15, 2003
The Iranian

I think my husband worries about my insomnia more than my other problems. If my stomach bothers me, I'll just complain about food--ok, maybe I'll whine a little--but if I have insomnia, I'm probably start surfing, getting crazy ideas in my head and even writing things for I suspect he wouldn't worry if I stayed awake writing the thesis that won't go away (if you're wondering, at this point it's an albatross on my neck) or doing something significantly productive; but staying awake and telling complete strangers my life story...even I find it a little strange. Yet, not strange enough to stop me from doing it anyway.

I'm going to let you in on a dark little secret of mine. Now, if I ever meet any of you face to face and you make any mention of this I will not adamantly deny it or anything. I'll just look at you as if you are unwell and I have no idea what you're talking about. So please, in the interest of writer-reader confidentiality, let's keep this between the few of us.

What is this secret you wonder? Well, as much as I hate to even utter these words, I'm not perfect. That's right. Unlike some Iranian women who are absolutely sure that everything they touch, do or say is Perfection, deep down inside (and I mean really deep) I know that I'm not God's gift to Creation. Of course, this realization clashes with my other deep, dark secret--my curiously unjustifiable ego problem. I mean on one hand, I know I'm not Perfect, but on the other hand, I see no reason why this should prevent me from being admired and adored by everyone I cross paths with--or even those I don't cross paths with for that matter.

I occasionally crave being the center of the Universe. I see no reason why the Universe should not revolve around a slightly heavy, petite woman whose hair is constantly out of control. I am honest enough to admit that while inspired and awed by people I meet or even read about, I also want to draw closer to them in hopes that some osmotic process will give me some of their greatness. Why else would I greet everyone last Friday with, "Hi, the Nobel Peace Prize went to an Iranian lady named Shirin Ebadi." I know that admiration for her bravery, compassion and strength are only things that I dream of, but that doesn't prevent me from bragging about her nationality--the only thing I have in common with her. The same goes with my friends and their various accomplishments.

It just cheers me up, when once in a while by some freak accident, someone thinks so highly of me. A few weeks ago, I got a call while I was cleaning house. My friend B from Switzerland called making small talk: "Hi, how are you...blah blah blah...How do you make borani?" While I love cooking, I know that my cooking skills are directly proportionate to how hungry my audience is. Still, I tried to give my idea of how borani is prepared (did I mention that I have never liked borani?). And there it was: "Parissa, you have to say something! It's just not right for people to say..."

It seems B has a little less patience with some things than I do. While I would probably smile and wonder if they knew how foolish they sounded, B would look at them as if they had lost their mind. Ok, she would probably tell them they were a little crazy if they went too far. But the funny thing is that she would also call to recruit me into telling complete strangers how crazy they are--from the other end of the world (by the way, it is this kind of demonstration of faith that feeds into that little ego problem I mentioned earlier... but I digress).

For the next ten minutes or so, we discussed how absolutely sure some Iranian women are when it comes to their own perfection. The problem is, not only are they perfect, but they have the Midas touch, for everything they come close to is faultless. Their parents had to be perfect in order to give rise to such a perfect being (which in a way is kind of logical, albeit false) and it would only make sense for their offspring to be as perfect as they are in every way. Lest you think I'm exaggerating, look around you.

While I adore my mother, I remember when she was happy with me, I was just like her. When she was less than thrilled about something that I had done, I had obviously learned from the other side of the family. B's mother is the same. Go on, keep looking. I bet you'll see a few hamvatans with the same habit. While everyone has something to offer, do any of us really believe that everything we offer the world is evidence of how amazing we are?

This brings me back to my current little confession. Since I cannot reach the lovely lady that was driving B nuts a while back, I can try to offer a little alternative. Heck, who knows? My little confession may bring fellow Imperfects out of the closet. It's not like we have to stand on roof-tops yelling that we're less than marvelous. All we have to do is come down from the roof-tops and stop yelling that we're the end-all and be-all that the world has to offer.

Maybe eventually, one day, we will be able to admit to ourselves that while our parents did great things and loved us, they were not all princes and princesses lighting the world around them (unless of course, they really were princes and princesses of the Ghajar or Pahlavi families, in which case, this doesn't apply to you). They had faults and made mistakes. They taught us by love, trial and error and as a result we too have some miniscule faults and imperfections which we may eventually pass on to our beloved off-spring. Welcome to the world, that just makes you like every other human being.

The way I look at it, even the rose has thorns, that doesn't take away from its admirers. No I didn't just compare myself to a rose, but if you compare me to one I won't rush to stop you--I'm too sleepy right now.

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By Parissa Sohie




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